I saw 38 new films in 2003. (New to me, that is–not necessarily films that were released in 2003.) Although 38 is only one more than the 37 books I read, it feels like a more substantial number. Maybe it’s the way that movies are leased into the cinema in a relatively small trickle–a couple of new films every week–as opposed to the sheer volume of books you are confronted with when you enter a typical bookshop.
Maybe it’s just that I don’t hunger for films the way I do for books. I do love the whole movie experience: from seeing a trailer for the first time, through reading advance press on the film, to actually showing up at the cinema, buying a bag of sweets, and sinking into a deep comfy chair for a couple of hours. I think DVDs are great, but there really isn’t anything like the experience of seeing a film on the big screen. The darkness of the theatre, the sound all around you, the way the film fills your whole field of vision…it’s just magical.
That’s one of the reasons I’ve started bringing Alex along to the cinema with me. He’s all about the magic. The two films we saw together were Finding Nemo and Brother Bear. In both cases he came away utterly entranced, and chattered about the films non-stop for weeks. Much of his play acting right now consists of him telling Abi and me to take on the roles of his favourite characters: “You’s-a Marlin, anda you’s-a Dory, anda I’m-a Nemo!” Whenever he climbs up on my back for a ride, he’s a tiny bear and I’m a big bear. Hello tiny bear. Hello big bear.
There are a bunch of movies I’m looking forward to in 2004, but most of all I’m looking forward to Saturday or Sunday matinées, and seeing all of the silly kids’ films I would otherwise avoid.
Looking back on 2003, though, how did the year pan out? The average review score I gave for those 38 films was 3.2 stars out of five, which is okay. There were two really appallingly bad films that merited not even a single star, and I saw four that were worth a full five stars. Curiously, I saw both of the zombie turkeys at the start of the year, and all of the five star films in November or December. Here are the ones I rated highest and lowest at the time:
- 5 stars:
- 4.5 stars:
- 1.5 stars:
- 0.5 stars:
- 0 stars:
I’m actually happier with those ratings than I was with my book reviews. With hindsight, the lists above really do stick out as the best and worst films I saw in 2003.
Performances that have stayed with me:
- Sam Rockwell for being spectacularly strung out in Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind
- Helen Mirren for a shattering outburst of grief in Gosford Park
- Barry Pepper for a subdued but memorably conflicted gangster’s son in Knockaround Guys
- Jake Gyllenhaal for being convincingly disturbed in Donnie Darko
- Ethan Hawke for holding his own during a descent into darkness in Training Day
- Leonardo DiCaprio for being a whole heap of fun in Catch Me If You Can
- Kate Beckinsale for wearing black PVC throughout Underworld
- Ellen DeGeneres for hilarious voice work in Finding Nemo
- Colin Farrell for his breakdown in Phone Booth
- Uma Thurman for menace with an alluring smile in Kill Bill, Vol 1
- Johnny Depp for being Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates Of The Caribbean
Worst performance: Christian Bale in Equilibrium. So bad it was funny…for a while…then it got worse.
Actor/Actress I most enjoyed wacthing: Colin Farrell. With highly entertaining turns in Daredevil, The Recruit, Phone Booth and S.W.A.T., he is quite simply a classic Movie Star. The publicity stills for next year’s Alexander look dodgy, though.
In 2004, I will be mostly looking forward to:
All sequels. (Well, apart from The Incredibles, of course.) Hmm. I suppose that’s why they’re on my radar already, though. I’m also rather looking forward to the extended edition of The Return Of The King. If it’s anything like the extended version of The Two Towers it’ll be a completely different film than the one we saw in the cinema.